Friedrich von Schiller |
Friend!--the Great Ruler, easily content,
Needs not the laws it has laborious been
The task of small professors to invent;
A single wheel impels the whole machine
Matter and spirit;--yea, that simple law,
Pervading nature, which our Newton saw.
This taught the spheres, slaves to one golden rein,
Their radiant labyrinths to weave around
Creation's mighty hearts: this made the chain,
Which into interwoven systems bound
All spirits streaming to the spiritual sun
As brooks that ever into ocean run!
Did not the same strong mainspring urge and guide
Our hearts to meet in love's eternal bond?
Linked to thine arm, O Raphael, by thy side
Might I aspire to reach to souls beyond
Our earth, and bid the bright ambition go
To that perfection which the angels know!
Happy, O happy--I have found thee--I
Have out of millions found thee, and embraced;
Thou, out of millions, mine!--Let earth and sky
Return to darkness, and the antique waste--
To chaos shocked, let warring atoms be,
Still shall each heart unto the other flee!
Do I not find within thy radiant eyes
Fairer reflections of all joys most fair?
In thee I marvel at myself--the dyes
Of lovely earth seem lovelier painted there,
And in the bright looks of the friend is given
A heavenlier mirror even of the heaven!
Sadness casts off its load, and gayly goes
From the intolerant storm to rest awhile,
In love's true heart, sure haven of repose;
Does not pain's veriest transports learn to smile
From that bright eloquence affection gave
To friendly looks?--there, finds not pain a grave?
In all creation did I stand alone,
Still to the rocks my dreams a soul should find,
Mine arms should wreathe themselves around the stone,
My griefs should feel a listener in the wind;
My joy--its echo in the caves should be!
Fool, if ye will--Fool, for sweet sympathy!
We are dead groups of matter when we hate;
But when we love we are as gods!--Unto
The gentle fetters yearning, through each state
And shade of being multiform, and through
All countless spirits (save of all the sire)--
Moves, breathes, and blends, the one divine desire.
Lo! arm in arm, through every upward grade,
From the rude mongrel to the starry Greek,
Who the fine link between the mortal made,
And heaven's last seraph--everywhere we seek
Union and bond--till in one sea sublime
Of love be merged all measure and all time!
Friendless ruled God His solitary sky;
He felt the want, and therefore souls were made,
The blessed mirrors of his bliss!--His eye
No equal in His loftiest works surveyed;
And from the source whence souls are quickened, He
Called His companion forth--ETERNITY!
I know what the caged bird feels, alas!
When the sun is bright on the upland slopes;
When the wind stirs soft through the springing grass,
And the river flows like a stream of glass;
When the first bird sings and the first bud opes,
And the faint perfume from its chalice steals—
I know what the caged bird feels!
I know why the caged bird beats his wing
Till its blood is red on the cruel bars;
For he must fly back to his perch and cling
When he fain would be on the bough a-swing;
And a pain still throbs in the old, old scars
And they pulse again with a keener sting—
I know why he beats his wing!
I know why the caged bird sings, ah me,
When his wing is bruised and his bosom sore,—
When he beats his bars and he would be free;
It is not a carol of joy or glee,
But a prayer that he sends from his heart's deep core,
But a plea, that upward to Heaven he flings—
I know why the caged bird sings!
William Butler Yeats |
I walk through the long schoolroom questioning;
A kind old nun in a white hood replies;
The children learn to cipher and to sing,
To study reading-books and histories,
To cut and sew, be neat in everything
In the best modern way - the children's eyes
In momentary wonder stare upon
A sixty-year-old smiling public man.
I dream of a Ledaean body, bent
Above a sinking fire.
a tale that she
Told of a harsh reproof, or trivial event
That changed some childish day to tragedy -
Told, and it seemed that our two natures blent
Into a sphere from youthful sympathy,
Or else, to alter Plato's parable,
Into the yolk and white of the one shell.
And thinking of that fit of grief or rage
I look upon one child or t'other there
And wonder if she stood so at that age -
For even daughters of the swan can share
Something of every paddler's heritage -
And had that colour upon cheek or hair,
And thereupon my heart is driven wild:
She stands before me as a living child.
Her present image floats into the mind -
Did Quattrocento finger fashion it
Hollow of cheek as though it drank the wind
And took a mess of shadows for its meat?
And I though never of Ledaean kind
Had pretty plumage once - enough of that,
Better to smile on all that smile, and show
There is a comfortable kind of old scarecrow.
What youthful mother, a shape upon her lap
Honey of generation had betrayed,
And that must sleep, shriek, struggle to escape
As recollection or the drug decide,
Would think her Son, did she but see that shape
With sixty or more winters on its head,
A compensation for the pang of his birth,
Or the uncertainty of his setting forth?
Plato thought nature but a spume that plays
Upon a ghostly paradigm of things;
Solider Aristotle played the taws
Upon the bottom of a king of kings;
World-famous golden-thighed Pythagoras
Fingered upon a fiddle-stick or strings
What a star sang and careless Muses heard:
Old clothes upon old sticks to scare a bird.
Both nuns and mothers worship images,
But thos the candles light are not as those
That animate a mother's reveries,
But keep a marble or a bronze repose.
And yet they too break hearts - O presences
That passion, piety or affection knows,
And that all heavenly glory symbolise -
O self-born mockers of man's enterprise;
Labour is blossoming or dancing where
The body is not bruised to pleasure soul.
Nor beauty born out of its own despair,
Nor blear-eyed wisdom out of midnight oil.
O chestnut-tree, great-rooted blossomer,
Are you the leaf, the blossom or the bole?
O body swayed to music, O brightening glance,
How can we know the dancer from the dance?
More great poems below...
Ted Hughes |
He tried ignoring the sea
But it was bigger than death, just as it was bigger than life.
He tried talking to the sea
But his brain shuttered and his eyes winced from it as from open flame.
He tried sympathy for the sea
But it shouldered him off - as a dead thing shoulders you off.
He tried hating the sea
But instantly felt like a scrutty dry rabbit-dropping on the windy cliff.
He tried just being in the same world as the sea
But his lungs were not deep enough
And his cheery blood banged off it
Like a water-drop off a hot stove.
He turned his back and he marched away from the sea
As a crucified man cannot move.
Paul Laurence Dunbar |
Therefore I dare reveal my private woe,
The secret blots of my imperfect heart,
Nor strive to shrink or swell mine own desert,
Nor beautify nor hide.
For this I know,
That even as I am, thou also art.
Thou past heroic forms unmoved shalt go,
To pause and bide with me, to whisper low:
"Not I alone am weak, not I apart
Must suffer, struggle, conquer day by day.
Here is my very cross by strangers borne,
Here is my bosom-sin wherefrom I pray
Hourly deliverance--this my rose, my thorn.
This woman my soul's need can understand,
Stretching o'er silent gulfs her sister hand.
Ralph Waldo Emerson |
O FAIR and stately maid whose eyes
Were kindled in the upper skies
At the same torch that lighted mine;
For so I must interpret still
Thy sweet dominion o'er my will 5
A sympathy divine.
Ah! let me blameless gaze upon
Features that seem at heart my own;
Nor fear those watchful sentinels
Who charm the more their glance forbids 10
Chaste-glowing underneath their lids
With fire that draws while it repels.
Thomas Hardy |
In days when men had joy of war,
A God of Battles sped each mortal jar;
The peoples pledged him heart and hand,
From Israel's land to isles afar.
His crimson form, with clang and chime,
Flashed on each murk and murderous meeting-time,
And kings invoked, for rape and raid,
His fearsome aid in rune and rhyme.
On bruise and blood-hole, scar and seam,
On blade and bolt, he flung his fulgid beam:
His haloes rayed the very gore,
And corpses wore his glory-gleam.
Often an early King or Queen,
And storied hero onward, knew his sheen;
'Twas glimpsed by Wolfe, by Ney anon,
And Nelson on his blue demesne.
But new light spread.
That god's gold nimb
And blazon have waned dimmer and more dim;
Even his flushed form begins to fade,
Till but a shade is left of him.
That modern meditation broke
His spell, that penmen's pleadings dealt a stroke,
Say some; and some that crimes too dire
Did much to mire his crimson cloak.
Yea, seeds of crescive sympathy
Were sown by those more excellent than he,
Long known, though long contemned till then -
The gods of men in amity.
Souls have grown seers, and thought out-brings
The mournful many-sidedness of things
With foes as friends, enfeebling ires
And fury-fires by gaingivings!
He scarce impassions champions now;
They do and dare, but tensely--pale of brow;
And would they fain uplift the arm
Of that faint form they know not how.
Yet wars arise, though zest grows cold;
Wherefore, at whiles, as 'twere in ancient mould
He looms, bepatched with paint and lath;
But never hath he seemed the old!
Let men rejoice, let men deplore.
The lurid Deity of heretofore
Succumbs to one of saner nod;
The Battle-god is god no more.
George (Lord) Byron |
Parent of golden dreams, Romance!
Auspicious Queen of childish joys,
Who lead'st along, in airy dance,
Thy votive train of girls and boys;
At length, in spells no longer bound,
I break the fetters of my youth;
No more I tread thy mystic round,
But leave thy realms for those of Truth.
And yet 'tis hard to quit the dreams
Which haunt the unsuspicious soul,
Where every nymph a goddess seems,
Whose eyes through rays immortal roll;
While Fancy holds her boundless reign,
And all assume a varied hue;
When Virgins seem no longer vain,
And even Woman's smiles are true.
And must we own thee, but a name,
And from thy hall of clouds descend?
Nor find a Sylph in every dame,
A Pylades in every friend?
But leave, at once, thy realms of air i
To mingling bands of fairy elves;
Confess that woman's false as fair,
And friends have feeling for---themselves?
With shame, I own, I've felt thy sway;
Repentant, now thy reign is o'er;
No more thy precepts I obey,
No more on fancied pinions soar;
Fond fool! to love a sparkling eye,
And think that eye to truth was dear;
To trust a passing wanton's sigh,
And melt beneath a wanton's tear!
Romance! disgusted with deceit,
Far from thy motley court I fly,
Where Affectation holds her seat,
And sickly Sensibility;
Whose silly tears can never flow
For any pangs excepting thine;
Who turns aside from real woe,
To steep in dew thy gaudy shrine.
Now join with sable Sympathy,
With cypress crown'd, array'd in weeds,
Who heaves with thee her simple sigh,
Whose breast for every bosom bleeds;
And call thy sylvan female choir,
To mourn a Swain for ever gone,
Who once could glow with equal fire,
But bends not now before thy throne.
Ye genial Nymphs, whose ready tears
On all occasions swiftly flow;
Whose bosoms heave with fancied fears,
With fancied flames and phrenzy glow
Say, will you mourn my absent name,
Apostate from your gentle train
An infant Bard, at least, may claim
From you a sympathetic strain.
Adieu, fond race! a long adieu!
The hour of fate is hovering nigh;
E'en now the gulf appears in view,
Where unlamented you must lie:
Oblivion's blackening lake is seen,
Convuls'd by gales you cannot weather,
Where you, and eke your gentle queen,
Alas! must perish altogether.
Robert William Service |
I stood before a candy shop
Which with a Christmas radiance shone;
I saw my parents pass and stop
To grin at me and then go on.
The sweets were heaped in gleamy rows;
On each I feasted - what a game!
Against the glass with flatted nose,
Gulping my spittle as it came;
So still I stood, and stared and dreamed,
Savouring sweetness with my eyes,
Devouring dainties till it seemed
My candy shop was paradise.
I had, I think, but five years old,
And though three-score and ten have passed,
I still recall the craintive cold,
The grimy street, the gritty blast;
And how I stared into that shop,
Its gifts so near and yet so far,
Of marzipan and toffee drop,
Of chocolate and walnut bar;
Imagining what I would buy
Amid delights so rich and rare .
The glass was misted with my sigh:
"If just one penny Pop could spare!"
And then when I went home to tea
Of bread and butter sparsely spread,
Oh, how my parents twitted me:
"You stood for full an hour," they said.
"We saw you as we passed again;
Your eyes upon the sweets were glued;
Your nose was flattened to the pane,
Like someone hypnotized you stood.
But when they laughed as at a joke,
A bitterness I could not stem
Within my little heart awoke.
Oh, I have long forgiven them;
For though I know they did no own
Pennies to spare, they might, it seems
More understanding love have shown
More sympathy for those vain dreams,
Which make of me with wistful gaze
God's Window Shopper all days.
Osip Mandelstam |
I don’t remember the word I wished to say.
The blind swallow returns to the hall of shadow,
on shorn wings, with the translucent ones to play.
The song of night is sung without memory, though.
No blossoms on the dried flowers.
The manes of night’s horses are translucent.
An empty boat drifts on the naked river.
Lost among grasshoppers the word’s quiescent.
It swells slowly like a shrine, or a canvas sheet,
hurling itself down, mad, like Antigone,
or falls, now, a dead swallow at our feet.
with a twig of greenness, and a Stygian sympathy.
O, to bring back the diffidence of the intuitive caress,
and the full delight of recognition.
I am so fearful of the sobs of The Muses,
the mist, the bell-sounds, perdition.
Mortal creatures can love and recognise: sound may
pour out, for them, through their fingers, and overflow:
I don’t remember the word I wished to say,
and a fleshless thought returns to the house of shadow.
The translucent one speaks in another guise,
always the swallow, dear one, Antigone.
on the lips the burning of black ice,
and Stygian sounds in the memory.
Robert William Service |
Because I have ten thousand pounds I sit upon my stern,
And leave my living tranquilly for other folks to earn.
For in some procreative way that isn't very clear,
Ten thousand pounds will breed, they say, five hundred every year.
So as I have a healthy hate of economic strife,
I mean to stand aloof from it the balance of my life.
And yet with sympathy I see the grimy son of toil,
And heartly congratulate the tiller of the soil.
I like the miner in the mine, the sailor on the sea,
Because up to five hundred pounds they sail and mine for me.
For me their toil is taxed unto that annual extent,
According to the holy shibboleth of Five-per-Cent.
So get ten thousand pounds, my friend, in any way you can.
And leave your future welfare to the noble Working Man.
He'll buy you suits of Harris tweed, an Airedale and a car;
Your golf clubs and your morning Times, your whisky and cigar.
He'll cosily install you in a cottage by a stream,
With every modern comfort, and a garden that's a dream>
Or if your tastes be urban, he'll provide you with a flat,
Secluded from the clamour of the proletariat.
With pictures, music, easy chairs, a table of good cheer,
A chap can manage nicely on five hundred pounds a year.
And though around you painful signs of industry you view,
Why should you work when you can make your money work for you?
So I'll get down upon my knees and bless the Working Man,
Who offers me a life of ease through all my mortal span;
Whose loins are lean to make me fat, who slaves to keep me free,
Who dies before his prime to let me round the century;
Whose wife and children toil in urn until their strength is spent,
That I may live in idleness upon my five-per-cent.
And if at times they curse me, why should I feel any blame?
For in my place I know that they would do the very same.
Aye, though hey hoist a flag that's red on Sunday afternoon,
Just offer them ten thousand pounds and see them change their tune.
So I'll enjoy my dividends and live my life with zest,
And bless the mighty men who first - invented Interest.
Charles Bukowski |
don't feel sorry for me.
I am a competent,
satisfied human being.
be sorry for the others
and it will
beware of them:
one of their
key words is
and beware those who
instructions from their
for they have
failed completely to live their own
don't feel sorry for me
because I am alone
at the most terrible
I am a dog walking
I am a broken
I am a telephone wire
strung up in
I am a man
eating a meal
in the month of
put your sympathy
water held up
you better be
Emily Dickinson |
The butterfly obtains
But little sympathy
Though favorably mentioned
In Entomology --
Because he travels freely
And wears a proper coat
The circumspect are certain
That he is dissolute --
Had he the homely scutcheon
Of modest Industry
'Twere fitter certifying
For Immortality --
Robert William Service |
In Paris on a morn of May
I sent a radio transalantic
To catch a steamer on the way,
But oh the postal fuss was frantic;
They sent me here, they sent me there,
They were so courteous yet so canny;
Then as I wilted in despair
A Frenchman flipped me on the fanny.
'Twas only juts a gentle pat,
Yet oh what sympathy behind it!
I don't let anyone do that,
But somehow then I didn't mind it.
He seemed my worry to divine,
With kindly smile, that foreign mannie,
And as we stood in waiting line
With tender touch he tapped my fanny.
It brought a ripple of romance
Into that postal bureau dreary;
He gave me such a smiling glance
That somehow I felt gay and cheery.
For information on my case
The postal folk searched nook and cranny;
He gently tapped, with smiling face,
His reassurance on my fanny.
So I'll go back to Tennessee,
And they will ask: "How have you spent your
Brief holiday in gay Paree?"
But I'll not speak of my adventure.
Oh say I'm spectacled and grey,
Oh say I'm sixty and a grannie -
But say that morn of May
A Frenchman flipped me on the fanny!
Christina Rossetti |
We lack, yet cannot fix upon the lack:
Not this, nor that; yet somewhat, certainly.
We see the things we do not yearn to see
Around us: and what see we glancing back?
Lost hopes that leave our hearts upon the rack,
Hopes that were never ours yet seem’d to be,
For which we steer’d on life’s salt stormy sea
Braving the sunstroke and the frozen pack.
If thus to look behind is all in vain,
And all in vain to look to left or right,
Why face we not our future once again,
Launching with hardier hearts across the main,
Straining dim eyes to catch the invisible sight,
And strong to bear ourselves in patient pain?
Star Sirius and the Pole Star dwell afar
Beyond the drawings each of other’s strength:
One blazes through the brief bright summer’s length
Lavishing life-heat from a flaming car;
While one unchangeable upon a throne
Broods o’er the frozen heart of earth alone,
Content to reign the bright particular star
Of some who wander or of some who groan.
They own no drawings each of other’s strength,
Nor vibrate in a visible sympathy,
Nor veer along their courses each toward
Yet are their orbits pitch’d in harmony
Of one dear heaven, across whose depth and length
Mayhap they talk together without speech.